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Militia groups battle in Libyan capital, breaking four-month truce

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Rival militias clashed in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Wednesday and at least two people were killed, medics said, splintering a four-month-old, U.N.-brokered ceasefire.

Armoured vehicles could be seen in southern Tripoli where militia groups had fought for a month until September, part of the widespread factional conflict plaguing Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

A United Nations-engineered ceasefire agreed then had managed to hold for the most part until now.

But on Wednesday a militia known as the 7th Brigade, or Kaniyat, and a collection of factions called Tripoli Protection Force fell back into fighting in the same southern district. 

“The clashes resulted in two killed and 17 wounded from both civilians and fighters,” Tripoli health department official Malik Marsit said. Some casualties had not yet been accounted for due to lack of safe access to the area, he added.

The 7th Brigade and some allied groups triggered the August fighting in a bid to challenge the dominance of four “super militias”, including the Tripoli Protection Force, in the streets of the capital.

The U.N. mission in Libya warned in a statement against any breach of the ceasefire deal. “Any party initiating a confrontation will be held fully responsible,” it said.

The internationally-recognised government in Tripoli, backed by the United Nations, has been working on a new security plan since the ceasefire deal but achieved little as Libya, long a major oil producer, lacks a national police force or army.

(Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Mark Heinrich)

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